The freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) is assessed globally as an endangered species by the IUCN. In the EU’s Habitats Directive, it is recognised as a priority species and listed in annexes II and V, with the conservation status assessed as unfavourable-bad across the Boreal biogeographical region. Without action, the freshwater pearl mussel will become extinct in most of its current distribution area. Finland, Estonia and Sweden have national conservation strategies and action plans to improve the species’ conservation status. This project brings together these strategies, actions, and the relevant authorities, enhancing the simultaneous and coordinated implementation of the existing conservation strategies and action plans.
The objective of the LIFE Revives project is to improve the ecological conditions in all prioritised target rivers, representing 7% of freshwater pearl mussel populations across Finland, Sweden and Estonia. Consequently, the aim is to achieve favourable conservation status and adequate recruitment (i.e. the addition of new individuals to populations) after the project for at least 17% of freshwater pearl mussel populations in these countries. Ensuring ecological connectivity requires including some rivers outside the Natura 2000 network.
Conservation status improved and/or adequate recruitment achieved in the 56 target rivers (about 25% of freshwater pearl mussel populations in Finland, nearly 4% in Sweden and 100% in Estonia) 10 years after the project, almost doubling the number of mussel populations with favourable conservation status in these countries.
- Almost 120 km of river habitats restored for freshwater pearl mussels and salmonids, improving ecological conditions, including:
- 3 250 restored spawning beds for salmonid fish;
- 55 km of re-bouldered rapid areas;
- 3 km of sediment settling pools;
- Migration obstacles removed from 61 sites;
- Current deflectors constructed for 62 km of rivers; and
- 240 experimental pilot sites (“kindergartens”), used as release sites for captive-bred juvenile freshwater pearl mussels;
- Two local river groups established;
- Hydrological restoration of catchment areas totalling more than 3,800 ha: blocking and filling of ditches, treatment of runoff water and creation of buffer zones and wetlands to decrease the amount of nutrients and solids entering the rivers, reducing the dissolved solids in the rivers by 20-50%;
- Freshwater pearl mussel breeding stations established in Konnevesi (Finland), Taivalkoski (Finland) and Põlula (Estonia);
- Captive-bred juvenile mussels released, with 5,000 -20,000 new individuals expected to be alive at the end of the project, thus preventing the 10 populations becoming extinct during the coming decades; and
- More than 1 million people reached through public dissemination efforts and over 8 000 stakeholders influenced.